Occasionally Jeffrey L. Page choreographs and directs the performances of singers such as Beyonce, Mariah Careyand Jazmine Sullivan. Occasionally he teaches opera at the Juilliard School in New York, in between his regular teaching load at Harvard University. Sometimes Page is in Japan, where he directs and choreographs plays, or he is on Broadway, where he puts together a reimagined version of “1776», opening in May.
He is now in Philadelphia, as resident artist at the Philadelphia Theater Companydirecting and choreographing his next show, “choir boy.”
“Philadelphia means a lot to me,” said Page, who grew up in Indianapolis and graduated from the University of the Arts. “I was a terrible student. I was surprised and happy that any college accepted me, let alone the University of the Arts. a child becoming a male child.
What Page finds distinctive about Philadelphia is how every group in the city — black, white, gay, all and more — strives to speak with one Philadelphia voice.
“It’s a fusion of a bunch of cultures coming together and finding a way to call themselves a singular community,” Page said. “There’s something energizing about it. All the people – black people, the Latino community – they rely on how we come together, how important our voices are, and I think that’s mind-blowing.
Page credits one of his Philadelphia mentors, late Walter Dallasformer artistic director of Liberty Theaterwith a key question that informed Page’s work on choir boy. Page said Dallas told him to always ask himself, “’Why is this job necessary? How is this work relevant to where I am and where society is right now? » ”
“choir boy talks about the masks we wear,” Page said.
Written by Tarell Alvin McCraneythe Oscar-winning author of “Moonlight“, choir boy tells the story of a young gay black man who must find his way into a choir of black men.
“He’s a queer boy, so because of that, a lot of the ways he thinks and lives his life, it’s kind of quiet,” Page said. “When things are under wraps, you have to be readjusted to someone else’s idea of normality. It makes you feel a bit schizophrenic.
The lesson we should learn from choir boy, said Page, is that everyone is cupping something, hoping to release that relentless submersion enough to “just breathe.” He hopes audiences will leave inspired to “enjoy every moment, to live out loud.”
And, sing out loud. Page promises plenty of songs sung in the shower — gospel, spiritual and R&B — in choir boy. Or go ahead, sing on Broad Street.
From February 18 to March 13, Suzanne Roberts Theatre, 480 S. Broad St., Philadelphia. 215-985-0420, philadelphiatheatrecompany.org Masks and compulsory vaccination record.
Actor Rob McClure, Who’s playing Mrs. Doubtfire on Broadway and commutes almost daily between New York and his home in South Philadelphia, has a message for President Joe Biden.
“I know Joe Biden — Mr. Amtrak — is going to help us out and invest in that infrastructure,” said McClure, who describes the ride as generally reliable, if he pays attention to the weather and keeps a suitcase packed in the theater just in case. Twice in 15 years he’s been stranded en route to New York, but he’s always put on a show.
“I kind of learned to enjoy it,” McClure said. “It’s become my designated time” and a needed break from the hustle and bustle of Broadway.
COVID-19 provided an unwanted break, first throughout the pandemic, delaying the opening of “Mrs. Doutefeu” to Stephen Sondheim Theater 18 months until December 5, and most recently when the show’s producers decided to discontinue it on January 10 due to the omicron variant. The room reopens on March 14.
The (temporary) loss of Broadway was Bucks County Playhouse Gain. The executive producer of the performance hall, Robyn Goodmana longtime friend of McClure, took the opportunity to ask him to bring his one-man show, “Smile“, to New Hope. McClure said that Goodman remarked that he took this musical criticism of his life and his successes (including “Avenue Q” on Broadway) worldwide. Why not bring it home as part of Playhouse’s guest artist series?
McClure, who grew up in North Jersey, chose Philly over New York as her home base out of love. He met his wife, actress Maggie Lakis, in 2005, when they were both in a casting call at the Lenape Regional Performing Arts Center in Marlton. Lakis grew up in and around Philadelphia, and each starred in many local productions. In Philadelphia, McClure saw talent, creativity and stability. “A lot of the theater is great and a lot of the performers are great,” he said. “We really like it here.”
February 19 and 20, followed by “That Golden Girls Show! – A Puppet Parody,” Feb. 23-24, Bucks County Playhouse, 70 S. Main St., New Hope. 215-862-2121 or bcptheatre.org Masks and compulsory vaccination record.
Due to popular demand, “Magnificent – The Carole King Musical” is back at Kimmel Cultural Campus Music Academy. Sure, it’s one Carole King track after another, but Beautiful also tells the story of his rise to stardom, his marriage and partnership with Gerry Goffin, and their friendship with another songwriting couple – Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann. Everyone’s contributions appear in this 26-song production.
February 22-27, Academy of Music, 240 S. Broad St., Philadelphia. 215-893-1999 or kimmelculturalcampus.org Masks and compulsory vaccination record.
Graduated in 1952 with an unbeaten record in tennis, Joy Valderrama Abbott made his mark at Temple University with his athletic prowess, but his contribution to Temple’s theater program was far more impactful.
A singer and actress in her own right, she was also a supportive wife of the Broadway legend George Abbott, theater producer, director and playwright who died in 1995 at age 107 and appeared in more than 120 Broadway shows. When she died in 2020, she left Temple not only the rights to Abbott’s musicals (including “Cursed Yankees” and “The pajama game), but also the contents of her study, as well as her closet full of priceless tailored dresses. Temple established the Abbott Master of Fine Arts in Musical Theater Collaboration program and the George and Joy Abbott Center for Musical Theatre.
Temple honors his memory with Heart – An Abbott Celebration February 21. Temple Broadway alumni and current students will perform and host a Broadway cabaret.
Still on the Temple campus,”Crazy in Lovea musical smash-up with tunes from all-female rock band The Go-Go’s. The plot is the retelling of a classic love story, Arcadiaby the 16th century British poet Sir Philip Sidney.
“Head Over Heels,” Feb. 18-24, Tomlinson Theater, 1301 Norris St., Philadelphia; Heart, Feb. 21, at the Temple Performing Arts Center, 1837 N. Broad St., Phila. 215-204-1122 or tfma.temple.edu/events Masks and proof of vaccination required at “Heart”. Mandatory masks, vaccination recommended at “Head Over Heels”.
It is the story of two Jewish couples: Esther and Schmuli, Hasidic Jews whose marriage was arranged, and Abe and Sophie, whose marriage was born of a childhood friendship. So different, but so many connections in “The Wanderers” through Anna Ziegler, presented by Ariel Theater and led by the founding artistic director Deborah Baer Mozes.
February 19-27. In person Feb. 19-20 at Main Line Reform Temple, 410 Montgomery Ave., Wynnewood; virtual on February 26 and 27. 610-667-9230 or theatreariel.org
The Swarthmore Players Club present “The theory of relativity.” It’s a crash course in physics music (just in case you missed it in school) with deeper lessons in human connectivity.
Feb. 18-26, The Players Club, 614 Fairview Rd., Swarthmore, 610-328-4271, pcstheater.org Proof of vaccination, mandatory masks.
SPQR Stage Company in Somers Point, NJ, hosts its fourth annual New Play Festival of seven 10-minute plays, including three written by Jersey playwrights.
February 19-20, Studio Space, 112 Woodland Ave., Somers Point, NJ, 323-793-2153 or studiospaceSPNJ.com. Proof of vaccination required; masks recommended.
There’s no sausage, and the Calamari Sisters aren’t sisters (or wives), but there’s plenty of laughs promised.”The Sausage Festival of the Calamari Sisters” to Bristol Riverside Theater.
February 16-20, Bristol Riverside Theatre, 120 Radcliffe St., Bristol, brtstage.org or 215-785-0100. Mask, compulsory vaccination record.